Arts Culture Tourism Film

Arts, Culture, Tourism & Film Task Team

3. Regional culture/tourism/film marketing plan
Develop and maintain a regional Culture/Tourism/Film marketing plan for Northwestern Connecticut.

Meeting Minutes - Board of Directors
Monday, September 19, 2016
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce

Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Peter Bevivino, Bill Burgess, Frank Chiaramonte, Susan Clayton, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, Brad Hoar, Mark Lyon, Laura McCarthy, Patricia Mechare, Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, Ted Shafer, Don Stein, Larry Sweeney, Sharon Waagner, Amy Wynn, Steve Zarrella
Guests: Dan Bolognani, Cathy Fields, Judy McElhone, James Nelson, Lesley Budny

I. Economic Impact of Arts, Culture and Tourism
Dan Bolognani - Board Chairman of Western CT Convention & Visitors Bureau and Executive Director of Housatonic Heritage
-    There are currently three regional tourism districts in CT, East, West and Central.
-    The Western CT Convention and Visitors Bureau (WCCVB) supports 63 municipalities in mostly Fairfield and Litchfield counties.
-    Each town is represented on the board plus there are industry representatives from lodging and tourism destinations.
-    Every state has a tourism system, CT went from 15 regional tourism districts to 3.
-    Regional tourism districts have been in CT for 30 years and are a bottom-up type organization with representatives from local communities and tourist related businesses.
-    Lodging generates $15-16 million total revenue per year in Litchfield County.
-    The 15% state lodging tax generates between $2.3-2.5 million per year in Litchfield County.
-    Tourism multiplier: every dollar spent on tourism generates $5 of additional revenue associated with tourism (restaurants, local shops, etc.)
-    Tourism funding (.03% of the annual budget) was cut to zero for the regional tourism districts on July 1, 2016 by the Governor due to budget shortfalls. Previously each of the three districts had been receiving $400,000 per year.
-    WCCVB produced 900 press releases and 3,000 blog entries last year.
-    Blog views totaled 2,680,970 and website hits were 59,972,241 in 2015.
-    There are 12,400 Twitter followers and WCCVB has active accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
-    Press releases and media visits have provided over $100,000 of free publicity for regional businesses and organizations. Over 100 articles were generated by travel writers about Western CT.
-    The 168 page regional tourism booklet "Unwind" is distributed to over 50,000 people annually. An online regional newsletter has 30,000 subscribers.
-    WCCVB provides event assessment, demographic and marketing research, group tour workshops, event planning workshops and hosts business-to-business networking and marketing meetings.
-    WCCVB participates in regional (NE) trade shows and serves as the contact for international travel inquiries.

Amy Wynn - Executive Director, Northwest CT Arts Council
-    The Northwest CT Arts Council (NCAC) is a regional (NW CT) non-profit organization covering 25 towns and networking with over 500 artists and over 250 art-related businesses and non-profit organizations.
-    The visual and performing arts are major contributors to the quality of life in the region.
-    The NCAC budget is $180,000 per year and is one of nine regional arts councils in CT.
-    NCAC recently hosted their 7th annual Open Your Eyes Studio Tour featuring 25 local artists in Litchfield and Thomaston. Over 1,000 people went on this year's tour.
-    NCAC also hosts the CultureMax Awards to honor local artists, art and cultural organizations, volunteers and businesses promoting the arts.
-    Based on a 2010 state-wide study, direct economic activity associated with arts and culture organizations was over $455 million per year.
-    NCAC has received grant support from the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG) and the NW CT Community Foundation.

Cathy Fields - Executive Director, Litchfield Historical Society
-    The Litchfield Historical Society (LHS) was established in 1898 and currently includes the Litchfield History Museum, Tapping Reeve House and Law School, and a relatively new archive facility.
-    The annual budget is $500,000 supported by revenue from an endowment, grants and membership contributions.
-    There are between 13,000 and 15,000 visitors per year from 42 states and 23 foreign countries.
-    The LHS has received over $1,000,000 in grants, mostly (80%) for capital projects.
-    LHS has also received over $500,000 from 27 grants from the CT Humanities Council for programming and exhibits.
-    The state recently cut funding for the CT Humanities Council.
-    They provide lectures, walking tours, field trips for students and in-school programs.
-    They do not receive any financial support from the town and rely on an endowment and donations.

Judy McElhone - Executive Director, Five Points Gallery
-    Five Points Gallery was established in 2012.
-    There are currently three separate gallery spaces with 10 exhibits per year.
-    Visitors from 16 states and 16 countries have visited the galleries.
-    Over 400 people have attended some of the openings.
-    The art has been valued as high as $250,000 in the three galleries.
-    The Gallery has begun working with college interns and is forming partnerships with the Nutmeg Conservatory and the Warner Theatre.
-    The recent Yarn Bomb project drew over 500 participants to create outdoor art in downtown Torrington. Walking tours and scavenger hunts were side events related to the Yarn Bomb project.
-    They are working with the University of Hartford to create incubator spaces for young artists.
-    They are planning an "Art Heist" fundraiser with 50 artists to support the multiple aspects of their non-profit organization.
-    Their success has enhanced downtown Torrington by bringing visitors and artists into the city.

James Nelson - General Manager, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Yale School of Music
-    Yale School of Music, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival summer program has been in Norfolk for 75 years.
-    They have four programs, one for artists and three for musicians.
-    The graduate level Chamber Music program begins after Memorial Day and runs until late August in Norfolk.
-    It draws students from all over the world. There are students from 14 different institutions with 38 students in all.
-    This prestigious program attracts students of all ages and specializes in classical chamber music.
-    They perform 40 public chamber music concerts during the summer months with over 13,000 visitors.
-    There are three staff members during the summer with multiple part-time employees from the local community.
-    They have established a partnership with the Region 7 school district and the Colebrook and Botelle Elementary Schools.
-    Grants from the NW CT Community Foundation have helped to support their efforts.

Lesley Budny - Sales & Marketing Manager, Warner Theatre
-    The Warner Theatre in Torrington was built in 1931 and is one of six of the 400 Warner Theatres still in existence.
-    It was restored in the 1980's.
-    The main theatre seats 1700 and the Nancy Marine Studio Theatre seats 300.
-    The Warner draws over 100,000 patrons to over 170 events per year.
-    Visitors last year came from 204 different towns and 32 different states.
-    184 students from 62 towns participated in the Warner Theatre's Center for Arts Education last year. Over 4,000 school aged children participated in Warner events.
-    The Warner Stage Company draws from a 30 mile radius for their community theatre productions.
-    They receive no funding from the city of Torrington or federal government.
-    They generate 70% of their revenue from programs and nearly 30% from contributions.
-    State support has just been reduced from 2.8% to 2% of their annual budget.
-    Over $30,000 in ticket vouchers has been provided to community groups.
-    There are 10 full-time staff members, 25 part-time staff members and over 800 volunteers.
-    They host 40 events per year partnering with local caterers. It is estimated that for every dollar spent at the Warner, $8 is spent in the community.

NWCTEDC Minutes - Executive Committee
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Elinor Carbone, Rich Meinert, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., JoAnn Ryan

I. Task Team Updates
Arts, Culture, Tourism & Film: Amy Wynn
1. Amy was not able to attend due to an accident that her daughter was involved in.
2. JoAnn Ryan talked about the 'Open Your Eyes Studio Tour' sponsored by the NW CT Arts Council.
3. JoAnn also described a "painted train" fundraising campaign by the NW CT Chamber's Education Foundation to support the Kids Play Museum in Torrington.

NWCTEDC Minutes -Board of Directors
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Susan Clayton, Patricia Mechare, Doug Parker, Lauren Smith, Sharon Waagner, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, William Baxter, David Dean, Ted Murphy, JoAnn Ryan, Rich Minert, Joann Brogis, Jocelyn Ayer, Frank Chiaramonte, Leona LeJeune, John Maxwell, Richard Labich, Bill Burgess, Lew Chappel, Fiona de Merell, Lou Helt, Rick Lynn, Stephen Silver, Larry Sweeney, Susan Dichter, Rob Michalik

II. Task Team Reports
B.    Arts, Culture, Tourism & Film- Sharon Waagner
- The team has met several times.  
- They have discussed the possibility of developing a film commission.
- Torrington Downtown Partners are using temporary space for galleries, such as Five Points Gallery, which is booked through the summer of 2015 with art shows and artist talks.  
- Suggested the possibility of having a bus tour of our region to show everyone the many things we have to offer here, modeled after one done in NY State.  
- JoAnn Ryan: Smithsonian exhibit "The Way We Worked" is coming to the Warner and the Chamber will partner with the Torrington Historical Society to host a bus tour of manufacturers during this time that will end at the exhibit.

NWCTEDC Minutes -Executive Committee
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: JoAnn Ryan, Lauren Smith, Bill Baxter, Lew Chappel, Rose Ponte, Leo Paul, Doug Parker, Lou Helt, Domenic Carazza, Rick Lynn, Rich Minert, David Dean, Jocelyn Ayer

II. Task Team Reports
B.  Arts, Culture, Tourism & Film
1.     Doug Parker gave update.
2.     The group has met twice and their main objective is to market the region.
3.     Janet Serra attended one of the meetings and spoke about their regional tourism site-
4.     Moving forward each meeting will focus on one area (i.e. arts, culture, tourism, film, each at separate meetings).

NWCTEDC Minutes - Board of Directors
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Bill Baxter, Frank Chiaramonte, Susan Clayton, David Dean, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, Celeste Echlin, Lou Helt, Leona LeJeune, Brian Mattiello, John Maxwell, Patricia Mechare, Ted Murphy, Doug Parker, Bill Pratt, JoAnn Ryan, Lauren Smith, Dwain Snow, Larry Sweeney, Amy Wynn, Steve Zarrella, Judge Charlie Gill, Bill Burgess, Mark Dixon, Lynn Gelormino, Bob Axelrod, Prof. Rich Testa

Looking at Film
The Arts, Culture, Tourism & Film Task Team has met twice and had lively and thought-provoking discussions. As a result of those meetings and discussions, a great deal of interest was generated around the topic of filmmaking and film production.

We had three guests join us for the meeting:
Mark Dixon (location services), CT Office of Film, Television & Digital Media
- CT Office of Film, Television & Digital Media is part of DECD
- Office began in 1983 with Arts, Culture & Tourism
- Works with film, television and digital media in the state
- In 2006 the state began offering tax incentives to help bring film to the state
- Quinnipiac has a film industry training program
- Mark acts as a liaison between location scouts and the state
- Handles any concerns of business & local government (permits, department of transportation, etc.)
Judge Charles Gill
- Has been involved with National Board of Hollywood Producers
- Produced two documentaries
- Hosted a radio show out of NY
- Warner has developed an ad hoc committee to bring movies back to the Warner to be shown on the big screen

Professor Rich Testa, UConn Torrington
- Professor of American Studies and History at UConn-Torrington
- Did his dissertation on theater
- Working with Judge Gill on bringing classic movies to the Warner
- Has an idea for the Warner to not just show a movie, but to make it an entire program with news reels and movie previews from the time period as well.

Two guests were not able to attend:
Paul Brighton, filmmaker - recently completed "Brilliant Mistakes"
- in Yale New Haven Hospital with pneumonia

Frank Galterio, Director - Litchfield Hills Film Festival
"Hello Doug, sorry about missing the meeting this morning. My son and his wife had their new baby  last night..... My schedule has been thrown off course in a good way..... Again my apologies I really wanted to be involved
Best." ~ Frank

Amy Wynn asked Mark Dixon to explain how we can compete with New York and other surrounding areas to get films here in the area.  Mark advised people to use to list properties for possible use by studios and include photos.  

David Dean suggested that every town needs a film commission and someone needs to be in charge so that when film crews want to film in this area they can have all of their questions answered and the town has all of the details worked out for them.

Mark Dixon responded that government representation on film commissions is very important for decision making. He suggested looking at other town's commissions for guidance instead of duplicating everything. Bill Pratt mentioned that the Farmington Valley Film Commission ( has offered to come out and help us develop a commission. Mark Dixon also said that the Berkshire Film Commission is a very successful example.

Mark Dixon gave a list of tasks moving forward: continue to work on film commission, identify the person or people in each town that will be the go-to people for film, identify key places within the region and put together images of those locations.

Bill Burgess listed the three things most important to the success of the film commission: policy, best practices-replicate them, and team-work.  

NWCTEDC Minutes - Executive Committee
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Doug Parker, Lauren Smith, Sharon Waagner, Dan McGuiness, Dale Martin, Rick Lynn, David Dean, JoAnn Ryan

Arts, Culture, Tourism & Film Task Team
1.     The group met for the first time on March 15th to discuss the CEDS Action Agenda under Arts, Culture, Tourism and Film.
2.     One of the issues discussed was the potential need for a film commission.
3.     A punch list would be beneficial to guide the towns and film crews.
4.     Film commission should include people in the industry.
5.     Sharon Waagner found Rochester NY's film guidelines that can be used to develop ideas for this region.

 Minutes - Board of Directors
Friday, May 7, 2010
8:00 am - Winvian, 155 Alain White Road, Morris
Attendance: Bill Baxter, Susie Clayton, David Dean, Lou Helt, Rick Lynn, John Maxwell, Ted Murphy, Dr. John Norman, Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, Win Smith, Don Stein, Vance Taylor, Cindy Donaldson, Larry Sweeney, Gina Scherbner, Janet Serra, Jim Whitney, Gerri Griswold, press-John McKenna, Rep-Am

Welcome to Winvian:
Win Smith III welcomed everyone to Winvian and provided a brief overview of the facility and the services provided.  They attract numerous visitors from all over the world to their uniquely themed and designed cottages.

Tourism in NW CT
Speakers: Janet Serra and Jim Whitney are the executive directors for the Western CT Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Janet Serra provided an overview of the recent changes in the tourism district consolidation from five to three districts effective as of January 1, 2010.  The new "Western CT Convention & Visitors Bureau" now includes many of the municipalities in Fairfield County and totals 63 towns and cities.

70% of the funding for the tourism districts has been cut due to state-wide budget deficits.  The reduced staff is trying to do more with less while covering a larger region.  The current emphasis is to increase public-private collaboration and utilize a greater variety of electronic resources.  

A great deal of time and effort are being expended to update the web site to provide more interactivity, social networking opportunities and the creation of more virtual online tours.

Jim Whitney described how his role has changed to include more online virtual trade shows using less printed materials and more interactive web-based tools.  He also focuses on providing support for events including production, management and resources.  Unique to this region are free economic impact results using surveying software upon request from event organizers.

Gerri Griswold provided an overview of the numerous programs and activities that occur at the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield/Morris which was established in 1964.  White Memorial includes 4,000 acres with numerous outdoor recreational activities offered throughout the year including hiking, boating and cross-country skiing.  Nature related educational programs are offered for both students and adults all year long.  Gerri also discussed the threat to bats of a fungus that has far-reaching implications for the entire environment.

Respectfully submitted,
Doug Parker
President/Executive Director
(860) 567-2204
Board of Directors
January 23, 2009
NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Allan Borghesi, Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, Bob Axelrod, Lou Helt, David Dean, Rick Lynn, Dan McGuinness, Leo Paul, Rose Ponte, Pat Power, Tim Abbott, Bill Baxter, Frank Chiaramonte, Chuck Conn, Jeff Cugno, Fran Delaney, Celeste Echlin, Carolle Jenkins, John Kiker, Maura Martin, Michael McGuffie, Michael Menard, John Morici, Guy Rovezzi, Dwain Snow, Don Stein, Vance Taylor, Tim Wallace, Amy Wynn, Ryan Bingham, Cindy Donaldson, Chris Vita, Mark Waterhouse, Kevin Witkos, John McKenna, Anthea Disney and Vic Muschell

NW CT Arts Council Regional Survey
-  Amy Wynn - Executive Director of the NW CT Arts Council requested NWCTEDC endorsement for a grant request to survey NW CT about the impact of the arts and cultural activities on the regional economy.  
-  She discussed the potential economic impact arts and cultural institutions have on the region.
-  This is a cooperative grant working with UCONN (Storrs) and DECD to develop and implement a comprehensive survey.  The survey will cost $30K.  
-  Survey results will help municipal leaders and local businesses understand the need for a supportive environment to attract and support local arts and culture.  
-  She cited a similar survey in Pittsfield, MA which helped guide regional efforts.
-  Jeff Cugno made a motion for NWCTEDC to support the Regional Survey by the NW CT Arts Council.  Don Stein seconded the motion.  It was unanimously approved.
Respectfully submitted,
Doug Parker
President/Executive Director
NW CT Economic Development Corporation
(860) 567-2204